“The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.”
Explanation and Commentary of Deuteronomy 28:68
This verse comes at the end of a long list of consequences and curses for disobedience should the Israelites turn from the God who has saved and blessed them. The chapter begins thusly: “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God” (Deut 28:1-2). It will be well indeed for the chosen people of God. They will be blessed, they will be fruitful, and they will be safe from their enemies, at the top of the list of all nations.
But to whom much is given, much is required. The Israelites have seen mighty salvation and have been shown generous and miraculous provision since God led them out of Egypt. If after all this revelation, signs, and wonders the Israelites foolishly choose to turn to idols, worshiping what their hands have made, rather than God in heaven, Moses relays here that there will be severe consequences.
For Christians, who have been saved by the same mighty hand from the even greater oppressors, satan, sin, our flesh, and even death, turning away from what we know to false gods and unbelief would lead to hell. Most orthodox Christians subscribe to the doctrine of eternal security, meaning, if you are truly saved, you will not fall away. But because the local church is filled with nominal believers who do not truly believe, the warnings are a means of grace to draw us to God continually.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Deuteronomy 28:68
#1 “The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt…”
The grand finale of all the curses and consequences of the chosen people’s rejection of their Creator and Savior, this trip back to Egypt would be seen as the ultimate punishment, and as a statement from God that he wishes he had never saved them.
#2 “…on a journey I said you should never make again.”
God not only promised that they would never go back to Egypt again, but they were also warned to never go back on their own volition. They were never to go to Egypt for assistance of any kind. They were never to view current hardships and compare to the relative provision and security of being “kept” by their Egyptian slave masters. To return to Egypt for any kind of help would be like the Christian turning back to his old ways of coping and living, after having accepted new life in Christ and the free gift of salvation.
#3 “There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves,”
The humiliation of being forced to offer themselves as slaves to the very people from whom they were rescued out of slavery would be doubled by the rejection of those people.
#4 “but no one will buy you.”
The rejection would come because God himself promised that they would not go back into slavery in Egypt ever again. God is faithful even when his people are adulterous towards him. If we are truly saved, there may be a lapse when we think we may attempt to run from God, but he will always be there waiting expectantly to welcome us when, like the prodigal son, we return home, as we were destined to do.
Expert Overview of Deuteronomy
Biblical Translations of Deuteronomy 28:68
The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.
Then the Lord will send you back to Egypt in ships, to a destination I promised you would never see again. There you will offer to sell yourselves to your enemies as slaves, but no one will buy you.
And the Lord will bring you back in ships to Egypt, a journey that I promised that you should never make again; and there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.
And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.
And the Lord will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, ‘You shall never see it again.’ And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.